Carretera Federal Cancún—Tulum Km 51, Punta Maroma, Quintana Roo, Mexico
After the success of the original Chablé Resort & Spa in a remote Yucatán location, Chablé Maroma arrives onto Mexico's popular Caribbean beachfront. With so many hotels on this busy stretch of Riviera Maya coast, the game is still stepped up with a smart modern design, excellent cocktails, and a destination restaurant in chef Jorge Vallejo's Bu'ul
After opening in 2017, Chablé Resort & Spa, near the Mexican city of Mérida, was singled out as "the most beautiful hotel in the world." The Prix-Versailles award from UNESCO and the International Union of Architects was given in recognition of the property's original architecture and design, which mixed modern art and ideas with the remains of an old, colonial-era hacienda that had been abandoned in the countryside. Mexican hotel group Hamak (the company behind Chablé) also used the same kind of thinking to develop Cartesiano in Puebla, a stylish recent opening built from the remains of an old tile factory.
Chablé Maroma, which opened in late 2018, maintains their hotels' standards of outstanding service and Mexican pride in their gastronomy, but this time it's a brand new construction rather than a revived piece of Mexican heritage. With sleek white walls, the property reveals a personality formed from modern design and that also embraces nature and local handicrafts.
Following a 35-minute drive from Cancun Airport, you'll turn off before reaching Playa del Carmen to arrive at Chablé Maroma's open-air lobby. The high, thatched roof has elegant chairs hanging from it, as well as a large chandelier made out of thick ropes and black pottery from Oaxaca. The seating area has ceramics and photography books to look at while sipping on a welcome fruit drink during the check-in process, the reception opening out on one side to a canal and a thick wall of tropical greenery.
On the way to your villa, you'll walk down a pathway surrounded by mangroves and ceiba trees, spotting the occasional parrot flying by. Mayan names are used for each casita or villa. There are 70 villas and suites here, and even though you might have a casita above or next door, plants are used to provide privacy and seclusion.
The casitas feel like a slightly smaller version of the ones at Chablé in Yucatan state, though they still have ample space. There's a private plunge pool big enough for a couple to cool down in and an outdoor bed with a breakfast table, the soft turquoise colors of the bed combining well with the wooden furniture and white Galarza stone.
The casita's heavy sliding doors open in the bedroom and living room, with Parota wooden ceilings and floors giving a cozy and elegant feel to the space. There's a loveseat, a king-size bed framed with palm weavings, and lamps lined with natural fibers. There's also a coffee table and a modern entertainment system above a minibar with complimentary refreshments and local beers. The colors keep within a palette of turquoise, grey and ivory, using Mayan embroidery to decorate some of the pillows. The room also has a glass wall that provides natural light and a view of tropical plants outside, with thick wooden blinds, operated with a remote control.
The bathroom is as large as the bedroom, with two separate toilet cubicles and three rainshowers—two in an outdoor glass room and one outside—, all looking out into the green plant-life of the jungle. There's also an individual couch located next to a full-size mirror with a paper lamp in the shape of a quetzal hanging from one corner. Another large mirror with an elegantly lit frame runs across two green ceramic sinks complemented with toiletries specially created for Chablé.
You can walk to the beachfront area in just a minute or two, to swim in either the turquoise sea or a large pool with smart blue tiles where feel-good tunes play softly and attentive waiters serve drinks.
The perfect spot for lunch and cocktails is Raw Bar, one of three restaurants on the property. This is a large deck on a second floor overlooking the pool and a stretch of beach, palm trees, and ocean, one of the most memorable views on this coast. You can relax under the shade of an umbrella and sit on a couch trying a few of Raw's creative cocktails, such as the Black Rita, a black margarita made with activated charcoal and silver tequila, or the Avocado Coconut, a gin made with avocado, coconut cream, pineapple and ginger.
Drinks, creative or classic, are just Stage One of a pleasantly relaxing and sometimes indulgent stay. The second is the fresh seafood on offer. There are sharing plates like crab tostadas or "al pastor" (a type of marinade), fish tacos, as well as octopus, fish and shrimp skewers straight from the grill. Dishes are presented with style, with interesting options to snack on before your meal arrives, from pan-roasted agave worms and grasshoppers to creamy sikil p'ak, a Mayan paste made out of tomato and sunflower seeds to dip a tostada into.
After you've relaxed and watched sailboats and paragliders passing by, you might want to go for a walk on the beach or read a book by the pool or on the deck of your casita. By dinner time, you should be ready for Bu'ul (the name meaning "beans" in Mayan), Chable's fine dining restaurant. The menu was created by Chef Jorge Vallejo, owner of Quintonil, a restaurant that's appeared for the last three consecutive years in the World's 50 Best Restaurants list. Dinner can be a la carte or you can select a tasting menu with a total of six courses, two each chosen from appetizers, mains and desserts.
You can start with a Jerusalem artichoke and pine nut tamal with chaya sikil p'ak, followed by a crunchy salbute (deep-fried corn tortilla) stuffed with lobster in a recado rojo sauce with apple and habanero chili. Even though the portions are modest, they are big on flavor and go well with a glass of good wine, with options from Mexico's Guadalupe Valley on the list. Staffers provide personal, helpful service.
The dining area has several open floor-to-ceiling windows that allow a warm breeze to flow through a ceiling made out of entwined long strips of wood. While you look out to the beach and an outdoor fountain, your mains might arrive: hearty creamy rice with Ocosingo cheese and pipian sauce was the star of our dinner. Following closely: beef tongue with manchamanteles sauce, a peculiar sauce with pineapple and plantains as a base.
To finish, you might enjoy a rich, indulgent Oaxacan cacao pot, baked in coals with pinole ice cream. By this point, you might be struggling to manage a second dessert, but mamey pannacotta might persuade you, a sweet lush fruit topped with crumble and mamey seed ice cream.
Next day, you can wake to Chablé's "eye opener," a tray of tea and coffee brought to your casita, complimented with a basket of pastries. You can sit by your pool, reading a mini newspaper with the weather forecast and the complimentary activities of the day, such as yoga or cooking classes.
Breakfast is served at Kaban, next door to Bu'ul, a neat space with a wooden canoe hanging from the ceiling. There are international and Mexican options, from avocado toast and Eggs Benedict to chilaquiles, as well as healthy choices, such as superfood bowls and smoothies. Time passes pleasantly, appreciating freshly brewed coffee with Nina Simone playing over the speakers.
Relaxed and content, the agenda for the day is open. You could spend time by the pool, stroll along the beach, or watch the clouds with a G&T in your hand. A visit to the spa is always welcome, either to take a temazcal (Mexican sauna journey), one of their Mayan treatments, or just to unwind in the hydrotherapy and "sensation pools" (hot and cold). The design continues with the thatched roofs, Galarza stone and open-air spaces, as well as elevated beds where local herbs are grown to be used in the treatments. It's certainly a place to relax and get in touch with nature, though you can also use the vapor room or sit in silence in an air-conditioned relaxation room, elegantly decorated in soft grey tones.
At the end of the day, you might find yourself back in Kaban, which is less of a fine dining "event" restaurant than Bu'ul, serving a delicious international menu that contains many Mexican favorites, such as tortilla soup and black aguachile (a type of soupy ceviche). For mains, you can pick from several types of steak and plentiful seafood, including shrimp, octopus, salmon, and tuna. It's sure to be another memorable and satisfying meal. In fact, there isn't an off-note at any of Chablé Maroma's three restaurants. With their memorable, often Mexican-inspired food, creative and classy cocktails, comfortable rooms, and chatty staff who took the time to get to know us during our stay, there's plenty here to make the hotel stand out on this coast for more than just the design for which Hamak's hotels have become known.
Chablé Maroma has the substance to back up the style.
Web Address: chablemaroma.com
Total Number of Rooms: 70 Villas
Published rates: $405 to $6,000 plus taxes and mandatory resort fee
Review and photos by Andrea Moreno.